Tag Archives: pain

From Death to Forgiveness.

banksy_girl_heart_440x330

I have a few things that I can’t seem to forgive.

I live with these things bumping around in here—bruising and hurting—have lived with them a long time—some longer than others.

I, like Brene Brown—who says she worked on forgiveness for 10 years—have been letting the notion of forgiveness steep inside me for a long time, mulling it over, periodically pulling out my still-needs-to-be-forgiven incidents to see if I can fit a square peg into that round hole once more.

I was relieved when I heard her say she had been rumbling with forgiveness for ten years. I was beginning to lose hope for myself and forgiveness, beginning to think we would never hook up, never even be able to be in the same room together. To find out that someone else had also been struggling with it for so many years, put me in good, albeit stubborn, company.

I am aware of the famous quote: “Holding on to anger and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I know I should forgive. I know it only hurts me and not my forgivees. I want to forgive. But I just can’t seem to make/let it happen in some situations.

“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.” ~ Rev. Joe Reynolds

So, a few mornings ago, when I once again heard Brene tell the story of how she had worked on forgiveness for 10 years and then heard her pastor in church say the “something has to die” line, so that the pieces finally fell together for her, I found myself wondering if maybe that was the piece that was missing for me too.

I felt some hope—mixed with dread at the thought of death and grieving—that forgiveness might be possible for me. So what is it that needs to die so that I can forgive?

Three days later I was still thinking about the dying and trying on the grief that must necessarily follow death. I didn’t want to grieve. But I thought Joe and Brene might be correct. I think I might have to let something die in order to be able to forgive.

There are incidences from the past that still bring up pain and anger, even though I understand why the person did what they had to do. Is that forgiveness, the understanding of the cause? Or maybe some form of forgiveness? When I agree with them and see their point and am even kind of glad they did it that way, but still feel the pain it caused me at that time?

Maybe I don’t understand what forgiveness really is. A quick search brought up:

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

I am finding that there is in me a small, hard-to-pin-down, part that thinks my lack of forgiveness provides me with something useful and justified. It provides me with a type of book/place mark, a reminder, of sorts.

By hanging on to the resentment, pain, anger, etc., so that it brings up the pain every time I think of it, I don’t ever allow myself to forget to protect myself against such instances. I think, after many years of working on this for myself, that that is what lack of forgiveness means for me.

And indeed, to let go of my pain and anger, almost seems like a betrayal of myself. Because if I succeed in letting those place markers die, mourn the loss and manage to be able to forgive and move on, don’t I leave myself wide open to further pain and possible hurt?

If I forgive that person, then what defense do I have to stop them from harming me again? What reminds me that I must keep my guard up against them and those like them?

And why do I think that my defensive stance would stop anyone from hurting me again? That’s not going to stop anyone from offending or harming me. It’s just stopping me from living fully.

Lack of forgiveness holds the pain that never lets me forget—and never lets me rest. And I am tired; I want to rest from this lifelong vigil.

Lack of forgiveness also allows me to feel superior to the offender. Even if I never say it out loud, I get to think things like, “Well at least I never did that!” when I somehow hurt someone else. So apparently, I have degrees/hierarchies of offense, and if I judge their offense/faux pas as worse than mine, then in some sick, convoluted way, I win.

Is it a simple tit for tat, then, for me? I can’t let go because I might need that pain for ammunition some time in the future to use against them—even if it’s only in my own mind?

Wow. Yuck.

So, more determined than ever to resolve this lifelong dilemma after those lovely discoveries, I am still exploring what might need to die. After much thought this last week and after watching Brene’s video several times, I think it is ideas I hold that have to die.

Here’s the first list:

  1. The idea that those who love me will never hurt me.
  2. The idea that I will always be able to avoid hurting others.
  3. The idea that people who hurt me are always wrong.
  4. The idea that if they do hurt me, they must not love/like me.
  5. The idea that anyone who hurts me is against me and is out to get me and must be my enemy.
  6. The idea that anyone who hurts me is doing it deliberately (it must be personal).

Why has it taken me so long to realize and face the fact that it is not possible to never hurt anyone?

Sometimes we must make difficult, hard-won, unpopular decisions based on our ethics, morals, obligations and beliefs. When we make these decisions, perhaps choosing the lesser of two (or more) evils, we can expect that not everyone is going to like our decision. And we can also expect that our decision may hurt someone. That someone may be a person we dearly love, respect and admire—someone we are close to.

I cannot ask anyone, even someone I carefully love, to go against what they know is right for them, in order to keep from hurting me. I just can’t justify that in any way—even when the pain it might cause may be bumping around in here for years afterwards.

Enter Death. Grief. Pain.

Hopefully followed by Forgiveness and Release, those two bedfellows who travel closely, gracefully and mercifully together.

The elephant journal version: I Can Never Forgive You

power

I don’t have the time or energy
to help you feel more comfortable
with my lack of comfort
with my pain

I cannot make it my problem
I do not have the resources right now

I am unable
at this moment
to babysit you
soothe you back into
seeing me as complete
to help get you somewhere
closer to your own comfort zone
to find a way for you to put me back inside
your definition of me
see me as what
you think I am

I am busy in here
and in pain
have work to do
I cannot help you right now

but do not mistake my lack of comfort
my pain
my inability
to be something familiar for you
my process
this river of emotions
I must watch and sometimes even choke on
as it flows downstream
for weakness

for this stream is cutting
a canyon through me
growing ever wider and deeper
whose impact
product
will only be able to be
measured
after the flood has
ended
after the river has ebbed

falling through ice

You WANT too much, you say from behind an angry mouth, like it’s a sin,
like it would be way too horrible for you to begin
to find the same inside yourself, and meet me
somewhere out here on this ice – ice that’s grown so very thin.

So it sits here within me so hard and tight,
bumping around in there – bruising and hurting –
this pain, this longing, this knife
of passion that cutscutscuts me into tiny little slices
of head thrown back, lips parted.

We could slide right down into each other, just like
Krishna and Rada deep in that dark, warm, garden, diving
through Krishna’s ink blue night
on the stars and planets that swirl up and out of sight
and out into the Universe every time Rada tosses back her long, dark hair…

And now you’re telling me not to go,
because I’m breaking sacred promises
and shouting that you don’t know
how you’re gonna live without me once I’m gone – when I’ve thrown
away what we could have become.

But you had chance after chance to prove your love to me.
And now I know that two persons can be lonelier than one.
I waited for years with hope and then not quite so patiently
for something – anything – that would never come.
You threw us away long ago – fragile ice finally giving in.

So it sits here within me so hard and tight,
bumping around in there – bruising and hurting –
this pain, this longing, this knife
of passion that cutscutscuts me into tiny little slices
of head thrown back, lips parted.

We could have slid right down into each other, just like
Krishna and Rada deep in that dark, warm, garden, diving
through Krishna’s ink blue night
on the stars and planets that swirl up and out of sight
and out into the Bigness every time Rada tosses back her long, dark hair…

I would have explored with you the ancient, sacred mysteries of this mangodwoman art,
because I loved you like I love the moon in her dark,
secret blanket of stars,
Like I love the sun, burning away the chaff to our heart of hearts –
sanguine, heavy and warm.

But you wouldn’t dance with me inside this sweet
holy rain that can fill the heart and soul,
wouldn’t allow that constant simmer on the back burner that melts icy tears
into a warm liquid flow,
wouldn’t trust the Angels to fly us up and out and into the Both, the One, the Whole.

So it sits here within me so hard and tight,
bumping around in there – bruising and hurting –
this pain, this longing, this knife
of passion that cutscutscuts me into tiny little slices
of head thrown back, lips parted.

We could have slid right down into each other, just like
Krishna and Rada deep in that dark, warm, garden, diving
through Krishna’s ink blue night
on the stars and planets that swirl up and out of sight
and out into the Whole every time Rada tosses back her long, dark hair…